Whenever I am asked about what St. John’s is like, I answer with a reductive tagline: “It’s good.” It’s a vague, uncommitted response that probably makes me come off disinterested. I guess that’s the St. John’s in me talking.
The University, like my response, is in a state of limbo.Is it a commuter or resident school? It’s both, I suppose. Is it a good school? Some departments are good, some are not. Even things we are traditionally well-known for are in limbo. Men’s basketball used to be good. The law school is good, but not as highly-touted as it once was.
This school needs reform to return to its glory days. First, it’s time to raise admission standards significantly. This Fall, a semester in which freshman-class enrollment was up three percent since last year, 60 percent of St. John’s applicants were accepted. With more applicants and more students enrolled at St. John’s, the University still accepts more students than it rejects. The administration’s admissions policies need to tighten up for three reasons: to improve the academic integrity of the student body, to provide professors with more intelligent students, and to make room in the Residence Village. Let the University naturally progress by keeping enrollment numbers down, provide teachers with students that will allow them to actually teach in core classes (ones that are seen by many students as mere formalities for a degree), and free up space for prospective residents.
To continually alienate juniors and seniors from the Residence Village through a housing lottery is unwise and disrespectful. By alienating your upperclassmen, the University can expect students to leave St. John’s resentful of their alma mater.Resentful alumni = less donations = no future for St. John’s.
The current admissions policies are dreadfully short-sighted.With a stronger, more spirited academic community, the social fiber of this campus can be significantly upgraded by my second premise: make St. John’s a wet campus.
Now I’m not a heavy drinker, nor a heavy partier. But I have been to parties in college and I have heard my fair share of stories from many different people with many different personalities, races, and, dare I say, ages under 21. One element links nearly every party I’ve been to or heard of: alcohol. In college, a party is not a party unless there is alcohol involved.
You can compile as many statistics, quotes, or whatever other evidence there may be that says college students can have fun without alcohol. It is all irrelevant. It might be easier finding a unicorn on this campus than a student, staff member, or administrator that did not attend parties in college with alcohol.
The fact of the matter is college kids drink alcohol. They are going to drink whether they are allowed to drink on campus or not. So what better place to protect your students, to have RAs and RDs in place in case of emergencies, to have Public Safety officers available at the drop of a hat, than in your own Residence Village?
Instead of allowing drunken students to cross Union Turnpike at 2 a.m. as they return from a night of bar-hopping, why not encourage them to stay in their dorms and help form a social community on campus?
College students will continue to go where the alcohol is. Until St. John’s allows it on campus, the University will remain socially stagnant.
If the University becomes more socially appealing, it will inevitably attract more students, which will allow the school to be more selective in their admissions policies. By raising admissions standards, the University will break out of their mediocre third-tier ranking in this year’s U.S. News and World Report.
I am told that this University was once considered one of the best academic institutions in the country. I hear that this campus used to be a great social haven-and that’s without a Residence Village. I know that this University, an institution that I have come to love, should and could be considered more than a has-been.